What It’s Like to Retire in Istanbul | Kanebridge News
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    HOUSE MEDIAN ASKING PRICES AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $1,526,212 (+1.41%)       Melbourne $950,600 (-0.81%)       Brisbane $848,079 (+0.39%)       Adelaide $783,680 (+0.69%)       Perth $722,301 (+0.42%)       Hobart $727,777 (-0.40%)       Darwin $644,340 (-0.88%)       Canberra $873,193 (-2.75%)       National $960,316 (+0.31%)                UNIT MEDIAN ASKING PRICES AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $711,149 (+0.79%)       Melbourne $480,050 (-0.07%)       Brisbane $471,869 (+1.52%)       Adelaide $395,455 (-0.79%)       Perth $396,215 (+0.44%)       Hobart $535,914 (-1.67%)       Darwin $365,715 (+0.11%)       Canberra $487,485 (+1.06%)       National $502,310 (+0.25%)                HOUSES FOR SALE AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 8,985 (+170)       Melbourne 11,869 (-124)       Brisbane 8,074 (+47)       Adelaide 2,298 (-22)       Perth 6,070 (+20)       Hobart 993 (+24)       Darwin 282 (-4)       Canberra 809 (+43)       National 39,380 (+154)                UNITS FOR SALE AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 7,927 (+125)       Melbourne 6,997 (+50)       Brisbane 1,822 (+3)       Adelaide 488 (+5)       Perth 1,915 (-1)       Hobart 151 (+3)       Darwin 391 (-9)       Canberra 680 (+5)       National 20,371 (+181)                HOUSE MEDIAN ASKING RENTS AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $750 (-$20)       Melbourne $580 ($0)       Brisbane $590 (+$10)       Adelaide $570 (-$5)       Perth $600 ($0)       Hobart $550 ($0)       Darwin $700 (+$5)       Canberra $670 (+$10)       National $633 (-$1)                    UNIT MEDIAN ASKING RENTS AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $700 (-$20)       Melbourne $558 (+$8)       Brisbane $590 ($0)       Adelaide $458 (-$3)       Perth $550 ($0)       Hobart $450 ($0)       Darwin $550 ($0)       Canberra $540 (-$10)       National $559 (-$4)                HOUSES FOR RENT AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 5,224 (-134)       Melbourne 5,097 (+90)       Brisbane 3,713 (-84)       Adelaide 1,027 (-3)       Perth 1,568 (-46)       Hobart 471 (-3)       Darwin 127 (+13)       Canberra 658 (-32)       National 17,885 (-199)                UNITS FOR RENT AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 8,171 (-343)       Melbourne 5,447 (-170)       Brisbane 1,682 (-22)       Adelaide 329 (+3)       Perth 561 (-11)       Hobart 159 (-6)       Darwin 176 (+16)       Canberra 597 (-12)       National 17,122 (-545)                HOUSE ANNUAL GROSS YIELDS AND TREND         Sydney 2.56% (↓)       Melbourne 3.17% (↓)     Brisbane 3.62% (↑)        Adelaide 3.78% (↓)       Perth 4.32% (↓)     Hobart 3.93% (↑)      Darwin 5.65% (↑)      Canberra 3.99% (↑)        National 3.43% (↓)            UNIT ANNUAL GROSS YIELDS AND TREND         Sydney 5.12% (↓)       Melbourne 6.04% (↓)       Brisbane 6.50% (↓)     Adelaide 6.02% (↑)        Perth 7.22% (↓)     Hobart 4.37% (↑)      Darwin 7.82% (↑)        Canberra 5.76% (↓)       National 5.79% (↓)            HOUSE RENTAL VACANCY RATES AND TREND       Sydney 1.0% (↑)      Melbourne 0.7% (↑)      Brisbane 0.8% (↑)      Adelaide 0.4% (↑)        Perth 0.4% (↓)       Hobart 1.2% (↓)     Darwin 0.5% (↑)      Canberra 1.5% (↑)      National 0.8% (↑)             UNIT RENTAL VACANCY RATES AND TREND         Sydney 1.3% (↓)     Melbourne 1.6% (↑)      Brisbane 0.9% (↑)      Adelaide 0.5% (↑)      Perth 0.7% (↑)      Hobart 2.2% 2.0% (↑)      Darwin 1.0% (↑)        Canberra 1.7% (↓)     National 1.3% (↑)             AVERAGE DAYS TO SELL HOUSES AND TREND       Sydney 27.0 (↑)        Melbourne 28.3 (↓)     Brisbane 32.3 (↑)      Adelaide 26.3 (↑)      Perth 34.9 (↑)        Hobart 33.4 (↓)     Darwin 48.7 (↑)        Canberra 27.6 (↓)     National 32.3 (↑)             AVERAGE DAYS TO SELL UNITS AND TREND         Sydney 27.0 (↓)       Melbourne 29.0 (↓)     Brisbane 33.0 (↑)        Adelaide 27.5 (↓)     Perth 38.2 (↑)      Hobart 33.4 (↑)      Darwin 48.3 (↑)      Canberra 33.2 (↑)      National 33.7 (↑)            
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What It’s Like to Retire in Istanbul

After living for 25 years in New York, a couple moved to Turkey. Despite some challenges, they are glad they did.

Mon, Apr 24, 2023 8:30amGrey Clock 4 min

In 1979, my wife and I married in Detroit and immediately moved to New York City. That was our home for 25 years—until we retired and later moved to Istanbul in 2004.

Why do we live in Turkey? Turks themselves frequently ask us, often with an air of incredulity.

Even as a young child I was interested in history. It became my dream to live close to the centres of the Ancient World. I love that the district where we now live, on the Asian side of the Bosporus, across from Constantine’s acropolis, was once known as Chalcedon. The town appears on the 13th-century Mappa Mundi, whose reproduction hangs on our office wall.

But most important, we have found a sense of community here that seems increasingly rare in big cities of the West. In our neighbourhood, Moda, we walk almost every day—to our bakery, butcher and fruit-and-vegetable markets, to our restaurants and bank, doctors and barbers—all places where we are known and greeted. People stop us to say hello.

The neighbourhood is expensive by local standards, especially for housing. Our apartment cost $500,000 years ago, and we have spent $100,000 more on changes and renovations. Real-estate agents tell us that today we could ask $1.5 million if we were to sell. A monthly fee of less than $300 covers our heating, maintenance of the common areas, gardening, a large outdoor swimming pool and the salary and payroll taxes of the building’s live-in super.

Our large living-room windows look out on the Sea of Marmara and the western sky. This view is the main reason we bought our apartment. Often, cruise ships glide past, or a supertanker heading for the Black Sea. In the distance we can see the Hagia Sophia, a mighty edifice in both size and history. Built in the sixth century as an Orthodox cathedral, it later became a mosque, then a museum, only to become a mosque again in 2020.

We no longer own a car. If we can’t walk to it, there are taxis and other forms of public transportation. Istanbul’s funky street life is improvised, hectic and refreshingly unregulated. We love it and miss it when we travel elsewhere.

It’s a short walk along the seaside to the ferry that takes us to the European side of the city in 20 minutes. On the boat, vendors pass through with tea and juices. Where we disembark, more vendors sell roasted chestnuts, mussels with savoury stuffing, roast corn, and fish sandwiches. Old men sell lottery tickets, and fortunetellers use live rabbits to select slips of paper of the kind found in fortune cookies.

We didn’t choose Turkey seeking an inexpensive lifestyle, but it is what we were lucky to get. Because our income is in dollars, the plunging value of the Turkish lira has worked in our favour despite high inflation. The two of us can have a full meal without alcohol in a fine restaurant for about $25. Turkish cuisine is good and plentiful in our neighbourhood restaurants, but Chinese, Japanese and Italian dishes have become options, too.

It has been relatively easy to make friends with Turks and fellow expats. We have a social life that is easy and rewarding. Many of our friends are younger than us and are a great help at times—particularly in dealing with government bureaucracy.

To live as foreigners in Turkey requires a residence permit that the government renews every two years. It’s a Byzantine process—we can truly say that here—that is never the same twice and can become fraught with tension as we try to figure out and obtain the changing documentation required. At times like this, it is good to have a Turkish friend to help us.

We exercise at our local gym, where I pump iron three mornings a week and my wife, Kay, does Pilates. Healthcare has become a large issue as we’ve grown older. For some years I had private insurance equivalent to what I would have had in the U.S. Although Kay, who is eight years younger than I am, remains insured through the same company, that insurer cancelled me when I turned 75. Since then, I have paid my healthcare costs in a private hospital out of pocket. The wonder is that I’ve gotten first-class healthcare, including an important operation, for a cost we could easily afford. I’ll add that Istanbul’s private hospitals are very modern, comfortable and easy to navigate.

We feel safe here. It is a comforting thing to be able to walk through our neighbourhood, even at night, without fear. The city historically has been subject to destructive earthquakes, such as those that recently ravaged parts of southeastern Turkey and Syria. But, so far, we’ve experienced no tremors of any consequence.

The winter here is rainy and cold, but it rarely freezes. Spring and autumn are long, and there is plenty of heat in July and August.

There are, to be sure, some challenges.

Although public transportation is plentiful, it can be maddening as well. The system lacks the same convenience one finds in a city like New York.

Turkish isn’t a simple language to learn—at least for us. Partly this is the fault of our ageing brains and hearing. But I also find that Turks are prone to speak quickly.

As for shopping, while international products are more available than before, our choices are still limited. Also, many products are of a lesser quality than what we were used to in the U.S.

We have to manage our financial affairs by long distance, and this can be frustrating at times.

Finally, while the internet and email are great, we miss not seeing our friends and family in the U.S. more often.

On balance, though, we are more than satisfied with our lives here. Our travels have taken us to many countries, and we know that no place is perfect.

Retirement gives one the opportunity to discern the themes and through-lines of our lives. As I reflect on the key choices I’ve made in life, I realise that what I’ve chosen most often is a sense of freedom and a variety of experience. Our expatriate life is one of those choices.


Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

Americans now think they need at least $1.25 million for retirement, a 20% increase from a year ago, according to a survey by Northwestern Mutual

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First, the good news for office landlords: A post-Labor Day bump nudged return-to-office rates in mid-September to their highest level since the onset of the pandemic.

Now the bad: Office attendance in big cities is still barely half of what it was in 2019, and company get-tough measures are proving largely ineffective at boosting that rate much higher.

Indeed, a number of forces—from the prospect of more Covid-19 cases in the fall to a weakening economy—could push the return rate into reverse, property owners and city officials say.

More than before, chief executives at blue-chip companies are stepping up efforts to fill their workspace. Facebook parent Meta Platforms, Amazon and JPMorgan Chase are among the companies that have recently vowed to get tougher on employees who don’t show upIn August, Meta told employees they could face disciplinary action if they regularly violate new workplace rules.

But these actions haven’t yet moved the national return rate needle much, and a majority of companies remain content to allow employees to work at least part-time remotely despite the tough talk.

Most employees go into offices during the middle of the week, but floors are sparsely populated on Mondays and Fridays. In Chicago, some September days had a return rate of over 66%. But it was below 30% on Fridays. In New York, it ranges from about 25% to 65%, according to Kastle Systems, which tracks security-card swipes.

Overall, the average return rate in the 10 U.S. cities tracked by Kastle Systems matched the recent high of 50.4% of 2019 levels for the week ended Sept. 20, though it slid a little below half the following week.

The disappointing return rates are another blow to office owners who are struggling with vacancy rates near record highs. The national office average vacancy rose to 19.2% last quarter, just below the historical peak of 19.3% in 1991, according to Moody’s Analytics preliminary third-quarter data.

Business leaders in New York, Detroit, Seattle, Atlanta and Houston interviewed by The Wall Street Journal said they have seen only slight improvements in sidewalk activity and attendance in office buildings since Labor Day.

“It feels a little fuller but at the margins,” said Sandy Baruah, chief executive of the Detroit Regional Chamber, a business group.

Lax enforcement of return-to-office rules is one reason employees feel they can still work from home. At a roundtable business discussion in Houston last week, only one of the 12 companies that attended said it would enforce a return-to-office policy in performance reviews.

“It was clearly a minority opinion that the others shook their heads at,” said Kris Larson, chief executive of Central Houston Inc., a group that promotes business in the city and sponsored the meeting.

Making matters worse, business leaders and city officials say they see more forces at work that could slow the return to office than those that could accelerate it.

Covid-19 cases are up and will likely increase further in the fall and winter months. “If we have to go back to distancing and mask protocols, that really breaks the office culture,” said Kathryn Wylde, head of the business group Partnership for New York City.

Many cities are contending with an increase in homelessness and crime. San Francisco, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., which are struggling with these problems, are among the lowest return-to-office cities in the Kastle System index.

About 90% of members surveyed by the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce said that the city couldn’t recover until homelessness and public safety problems were addressed, said Rachel Smith, chief executive. That is taken into account as companies make decisions about returning to the office and how much space they need, she added.

Cuts in government services and transportation are also taking a toll. Wait times for buses run by Houston’s Park & Ride system, one of the most widely used commuter services, have increased partly because of labor shortages, according to Larson of Central Houston.

The commute “is the remaining most significant barrier” to improving return to office, Larson said.

Some landlords say that businesses will have more leverage in enforcing return-to-office mandates if the economy weakens. There are already signs of such a shift in cities that depend heavily on the technology sector, which has been seeing slowing growth and layoffs.

But a full-fledged recession could hurt office returns if it results in widespread layoffs. “Maybe you get some relief in more employees coming back,” said Dylan Burzinski, an analyst with real-estate analytics firm Green Street. “But if there are fewer of those employees, it’s still a net negative for office.”

The sluggish return-to-office rate is leading many city and business leaders to ask the federal government for help. A group from the Great Lakes Metro Chambers Coalition recently met with elected officials in Washington, D.C., lobbying for incentives for businesses that make commitments to U.S. downtowns.

Baruah, from the Detroit chamber, was among the group. He said the chances of such legislation being passed were low. “We might have to reach crisis proportions first,” he said. “But we’re trying to lay the groundwork now.”


Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

Americans now think they need at least $1.25 million for retirement, a 20% increase from a year ago, according to a survey by Northwestern Mutual

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